About Lhasa Apsos

by Molly Sawyer
Lhasa apsos were originally bred to guard Tibetan palaces and monasteries.

Lhasa apsos were originally bred to guard Tibetan palaces and monasteries.

Temple roof and blue sky image by Tatyana Pavlova from Fotolia.com

The Lhasa Apso is an ancient, noble breed. First registered with the AKC in 1935, Lhasas started in the Terrier Group but are now a member of the Non-Sporting Group. The average lifespan of a Lhasa Apso is 12 to 15 years, though some have lived in their 20s. Lhasas are a slow-maturing breed, and many breeders keep puppies until 10 weeks or older.

History and Development

The Lhasa Apso was developed near the sacred city of Lhasa in Tibet and is known as the Bark Lion Sentinel Dog, or Abso Seng Kye, in its native land. Kept as indoor watchdogs while their larger cousin, the mastiff, guarded the outside, Lhasas developed a keen intelligence and a sense of independence. Lhasas first appeared in the United States in 1933, gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama brought to the country by Suydam Cutting.

Character and Temperament

Unlike most other breeds, Lhasa Apsos are not especially interested in pleasing their owners. Lhasas are mischievous and joyful with their owners, but can be aloof and reserved with strangers. While some Lhasas do well with children, most prefer the adult members of the family. Early socialization is vital for Lhasas that are to be part of a family.

Appearance and Size

A small breed, the Lhasa stands 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder. Slightly longer than tall, Lhasas should possess strong bones and well-developed muscles. The muzzle is one-third the length of the head, and the skull is narrow. The bite is either level, which means the teeth meet evenly in front, or slightly undershot with the upper teeth just in front of the lower teeth.

Coat and Colors

The long, flowing, silky coat lends to the Lhasa Apso's regal appearance. This type of coat also requires regular grooming, as often as two or three times per week for an adult with a full coat. All colors are acceptable for a Lhasa coat, with or without dark tips to the beard and ears.

Health Concerns

Overall, Lhasa Apsos are a healthy breed. The most common genetic condition is renal dysplasia, a condition where the kidneys fail to develop properly. Other inherited issues include luxating patella, where the kneecaps slip in and out of place; cherry eye, a protrusion of the third eyelid; and keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or dry eye. Responsible breeders will screen parents to minimize the chance of producing puppies with these conditions.

Photo Credits

  • Temple roof and blue sky image by Tatyana Pavlova from Fotolia.com